Eric Fanning, undersecretary of the Air Force, has told Defense News in an interview published Monday that the branch has made budget trade-off decisions and also expressed worries about how the service will get the funds to support existing programs in the current fiscal environment.
Fanning spoke to Defense News to share his perspective on the branch’s aircraft acquisition programs, budget tightening and technology investments, Aaron Mehta writes.
“Our fear is that it comes out of the same place we have been taking it out of, which is operations and maintenance, your readiness and your future investment accounts,” Fanning told the publication.
He says the T-X trainer, Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System and Combat Rescue Helicopter are critical programs for the branch, according to Mehta’s article.
Fanning also believes that the U.S. should build its own rocket engine for military space missions instead of relying on the Russian-made RD-180 platform.
“There are multiple options we will look at; one of them could be building an alternate engine. That could mean inside the Air Force or as part of a public-private partnership, so even that has multiple options.”
“It could mean that instead of pursuing a program to build an engine on our own, we invest in private partnerships to sort of launch some competition for an alternate engine.”
Fanning also said that further cuts to the defense budget could hamper technology research and development efforts and affect the industrial base.
“So many small businesses that really are centers of innovation that rely on the prime contracts, and we do not even see what happens to them right away.”
“I worry very much about that innovation and that technological edge that feeds into us through the industrial base as we squeeze it down.”